By Rebecca Gaunt
Kennesaw City Council scrapped plans to scrap curbside recycling on Tuesday, despite rising costs for sewerage services.
The monthly household cost for Republic Services to pick up garbage, green waste and household recycling will increase to $32.50. Republic will also continue to collect glass recycling from the Moon Station Road depot.
The current cleaning cost is $22 per month.
Due to rising prices, the city issued a request for proposals this year. Three companies expressed interest, but ultimately BFI Waste Services, operating as Republic, was the only one to submit a bid.
City residents faced higher bills with or without recycling. If the city had discontinued the program, the monthly fee would have increased further to $26. BFI charges an additional $5.75 per month per household to continue curbside collection, regardless of participation. Individuals cannot accept or refuse a different price.
Mayor Derek Easterling said landfill costs were a big factor in rising costs.
At last week’s work session, Public Works Director Ricky Stewart recommended that recycling be discontinued because of the extra expense. However, proponents of the program have been very vocal in keeping it.
During the working session, council member Pat Ferris asked Stewart to look at the number of homes that actively recycle. Since each customer receives a recycling box, Stewart was unable to provide a number. Republic also doesn’t keep data on how many households use the recycling bin, according to Stewart.
Stewart researched national averages and made weight-based comparisons with what’s collected at Kennesaw.
He estimated that 31.5% of city residents recycle based on the fact that Kennesaw recovers 144 tons of materials per month. Stewart compared national data indicating that a city of this size should collect 600 tonnes on average.
“I think I heard from the 3,000 people using recycling this weekend,” Viars said.
The two council members Antonio Jones and Easterling noted that they observed more than a third of households putting recycling cans on the sidewalk.
Viars expressed concern that by ending the recycling program, some residents will now have more trash and will need an extra bin.
Currently, the city charges $4 a month for an extra can, but according to Stewart, the new contract with BFI charges $18.56.
“What? By box?” a bewildered Jones replied.
Ferris, echoing his frustration, said, “No. Seriously?”
Easterling also pointed out that an increase in weight brought to the landfill could also result in additional costs.
Last year, the City of Kennesaw earned about $500,000 in profits from Republic, which went to the general fund. Similar revenue is expected this year, according to a discussion between Stewart and Jones.
The new contract starts on October 1. Updated prices will be reflected in the November invoice.
The full discussion can be viewed on the Town of Kennesaw’s Facebook page at 1:04:15 a.m. September 6 meeting.
Rebecca Gaunt holds a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and a master’s degree in education from Oglethorpe University. After teaching elementary school for several years, she returned to writing. She lives in Marietta with her husband, son, two cats and a dog. In her spare time, she likes to read, binge on Netflix and travel.